The Caftan

Posted by Reem
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Marisa Berenson in gold caftan by Tina Leser with rings by Gripoix, Photo by Henry Clarke, 1968.

The vintage caftan is an elegant piece that glides down runways, can be spotted on a red carpet, worn by a boho maven out for a shopping day or sported as a beach cover. With an ancient Mesopotamian origin, the Caftan (Kaftan) predates Jesus Christ, having been worn by both men and women for thousands of years. In the 1960s, the Middle Eastern derived style made it’s way over to mainstream fashion amongst North American women. The loose fitting, typically full length and long-sleeved dress was a far cry from the prim and proper clothes of the 1950s which centered around formality, tailoring and dressing for the approval of others rather than ones personal sense of style. The experimental styles in response to traditionally acceptable fashion in the 1960s was informed in part by a rise of youth culture that set the tone for a cross-generational shift. A popular luxury designer of the time was Pucci, who has always been known for light and colourful statement prints and casual pieces. Since jet-setting was one of the ultimate luxuries of the time, it’s easy to understand the timing of the fascination with resort-wear and unique prints. In many ways the stylish elegant and easy garment oozes sensuality. There have been adaptations over the years but the caftan retains a timeless appeal and a sense of easy glamour.

Shop our selection of caftans here 


(L) Deborah Dixen, Photo by Bert Stern, 1964. (R) Photo by Irving Penn, Vogue, September 1963.


(L) Princess Lalla Nouzha, Vogue, January 1965. (R) Veruschka is wearing Irene Galitzine, Vogue UK, July 1965.


(L) Veruschka wearing Emilio Pucci, Vogue, 1965. (R) Emilio Pucci, 1960s.


(L) Both models are wearing gandurah, a shirtlike, ankle-length dress. The prints are Kenyan. Photo from Vogue, July, 1966. (R) A Ferdinando Sarmi ensemble photographed by Henry Clarke, 1966.


Barbra Streisand, Photo by Richard Avedon, 1966.


(L) Catherine Deneuve, Vogue, 1966. (R) Donna Mitchell is wearing a striped gold, orange and blue caftan, Photo by Helmut Newton, 1966.


(L) Floral print caftan, Vogue UK, December 1966. (R) Isa Stoppi, Photo by Henry Clarke, UK Vogue, 1966.


(L) "Mrs. Ahmet Ertegun" as Vogue put it wearing a gold Moroccan caftan as an evening coat, 1966. (R) Photo by Franco Rubartelli, 1966.


(L) Lurex caftan by Bellville and Cie modeled by Sue Murray, Vogue UK, December 1966. (R) Marella and Gianni Agnelli at Truman Capote's Black and White Dance, 1966.


(L) Dior emerald green jibba of Marescot lace, banded with green and gold beads. Photo from Vogue, September 1966. (R) Sharon Tate, Photo by Orlando Suero, 1966.


(L) Marisa Mell is wearing Oscar de la Renta, 1967. (R) Samantha Jones is wearing a caftan by Livio de Simone, Photo by Henry Clarke, Vogue, 1967.


(L) Peggy Moffit wearing Pucci silk Jersey, Photo by Henry Clarke, 1968. (R) Moyra Swan is wearing a transparent nightwear caftan by Pierre Cardin, 1969.


(L) L'officiel, 1970s. (R) Veruschka, 1970s.


(L) Verushcka, 1970s. (R) Ann Schaufuss is wearing Chloe and Gina Fratini, Vogue, April 1971.


(L) Karen Graham, Photo by Irving Penn, Vogue, November 1971. (R) Linea Italiana Spring/Summer Caftan Dress by Heinz Riva, 1971.


(L) Gunilla Lindblad in Oscar de la Renta Caftan, photo by Zachariasen, Vogue, 1971. (R) Elizabeth Taylor celebrating her 40th birthday wearing a black lamb Tiziani caftan and bold jewels, 1972.


(L) Photo by Louis Faurer, 1972. (R) The Lilly Dress by Lilly Pulitzer, Vogue, 1972.


(L) Tita Rossi, 1972. (R) Photo by Barry Lategan, Vogue Italia, October 1973.


(L) Kathy Williams Badgett wearing a batik Junior Caftan from Arpeja, Seventeen magazine, April 1973. (R) 1973 Lauren Hutton in a chiffon caftan by Halston, Photo by Richard Avedon, US Vogue, April 1973.


(L) Nina Van Pallandt, 1973. (R) Jerry Hall, 1975.


(L) Anjelica Huston in Missoni, Vogue, 1974. (R) Popy Moreni, Photo by Andre Carrara, ELLE France, June 1977.


(L) Lilly Pulitzer's Late Summer/Fall catalog, 1982. (R) Caftan by Oscar de la Renta, Photo by Irving Penn for American Vogue, May 1982.


(L) Iman for Issey Miyake Spring/Summer, 1984.


(L) Ashley Olsen in a Vintage Caftan. (R) Rachel Zoe in a Miguelina Rachel Caftan.

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